I uncovered the dish of religieuses and put one on his plate. "I don't think there is such a thing as a good or bad Christian," I told him. "Only good or bad people."
He nodded and took the little round pastry between finger and thumb. "Maybe."
A long pause. I poured a glass for myself, with noisette liquer and hazelnut chips. The smell is warm and intoxicating, like that of a woodpile in the late autumn sun. Guillaume ate his religieuse with careful enjoyment, dabbling the crumbs from the plate with a moistened forefinger. "In that case, the things I've believed all my life - about sin and redemption and the mortification of the body - you'd say none of these things mean anything, wouldn't you?"
I smiled at his seriousness. "I'd say you've been talking to Armande," I said gently. "And I'd say that you and she are entitled to your beliefs. As long as they make you happy."
"Oh." He watched me warily, as if I were about to sprout horns. "And what - if it isn't an impertinent question - what do you believe?"
Magic carpet rides, rune magic, Ali Baba and visions of the Holy Mother, astral travel and the future in the dregs of a glass of red wine...
Florida? Disneyland? The Everglades? What about it, cherie? What about it, hein?
Buddha. Frodo's journey into Mordor. The transubstantiation of the sacrament. Dorothy and Toto. The Easter Bunny. Space aliens. The Thing in the closet. The Resurrection and the Life at the turn of a card... I've believed them all at one time or another. Or pretended to. Or pretended not to.
Whatever you like, Mother. Whatever makes you happy.
And now? What do I believe right now? "I believe that being happy is the only important thing," I told him at last.
Happiness. Simple as a glass of chocolate or tortuous as the heart. Bitter. Sweet. Alive.